In the past five years, the eight Arctic states have each published comprehensive Arctic strategies, a manifestation of the growing political interest in the region. This article examines the Arctic strategies of each Arctic state in turn. It goes on to identify common themes found in the strategies: security and sovereignty; economic and business development; sustainable and regional development; environmental protection and climate change; safety, search and rescue; human dimension and peoples; research and knowledge; and international cooperation. Similarities and differences between the Arctic states on these key themes are examined, providing an insightful illustration of current regional values and interests.
Lassi Heininen is University Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at the University of Lapland, Finland.
Climate change is bringing non-Arctic states closer to the Arctic. For France, thawing ice and increased human activities in the circumpolar north have initiated an 'unofficial' but discernable reevaluation of how Paris looks at and relates to the Arctic. Although French officials have yet to pen into policy an official French strategy or agenda for the Arctic, this article looks at how thawing ice has led various governmental and non-governmental officials in Paris to rethink how French foreign policy should be addressing Arctic change today. It explores how images of a changing Arctic have led policymakers to question the governance structures of the Arctic. It also offers an initial overview of French interests related to the Arctic and identifies key issues that are currently shaping the Arctic foreign policy discourse in Paris. The purpose of this assessment is to first, explore how France is engaging in and with the Arctic in an era of climate change, and also, to expand the discussion on the role and interests of non-Arctic states in the region.
Joël Plouffe, PhD Candidate, National School of Public Administration (ENAP), Montréal, Research Fellow at the Center for Interuniversity Research on the International Relations of Canada and Québec (CIRRICQ), CDFAI Fellow, Canada
Olga Alexeeva and Frédéric Lasserre
Much attention has been paid to China's Arctic ambitions as of late, with many commentators warning of a forthcoming aggressive pursuit of control over Arctic resources and shipping lanes. This article reviews China's longstanding scientific, and growing economic and political, interests in the region and concludes that China has far more to gain by cooperating with Arctic neighbors and buying energy from Arctic EEZ-based projects, than by pursuing an aggressive and confrontational exploration strategy, which could be counterproductive for China's own position regarding disputes in the South China Sea. China has been pursuing cooperative and collaborative relations in the region, and is likely to do so in the future, not least because it is in its strategic and economic interest to do so.
Olga Alexeeva is a Member of the Raoul Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies and Frédéric Lasserre is a Professor at the Université du Quebec à Montréal.
Aki Tonami and Stewart Watters
Japan has a long history in polar research and this is acknowledged and encouraged by the Japanese government. However, the Japanese government has not created a unified, cross-ministerial task force operating within a unified strategy. This stems from the particular characteristics of Japanese government administration, where ministerial horizontal cooperation is rare, and where business and industry interests often play a critical role. Japanese business has not applied sufficient pressure for the government to create a central strategy as they have concluded that benefits from developing the NSR are too fragile to gain significant financial or logistics advantages, compared with existing routes. Japan views it as critical to engage in international research and development in cooperation with littoral states, as Japan does not have the legal title to access natural resources in the Arctic region. The views of the shipping industry may shift over time, and the Japanese government's attitude to energy security may shift due to the nuclear accident in 2011. From this perspective, the overarching ambition of Japan's Arctic policy is to plant seeds in order to secure interests in the future.
Aki Tonami is Researcher, and Stewart Watters is Research Fellow, at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Stewart Watters and Aki Tonami
This paper analyses the extent to which Singapore has an Arctic policy and what factors may be driving that policy. Although a small, Southeast Asian territory located near the equator, Singapore is an influential maritime actor that has articulated its interest in Arctic governance through government statements, diplomatic initiatives and an application for observer status to the Arctic Council. We find that Singapore has considerable economic and political interest in the development of international maritime policy, including the Arctic, and is concerned by the potential local impacts of the climate change already visible in the Arctic. Singapore also has specific interests in the development of its domestic maritime industries. As a developmental state, there are close links between Singapore's state institutions and major commercial enterprises. Singapore's competence in the management of complex port infrastructure and the fostering of global leaders in the offshore marine and engineering industry are of particular note in analyzing factors driving the Singapore government's interest in the Arctic's potential. We conclude that Singapore's Arctic policy is in its early stages of definition. It is not yet clear whether Singapore's efforts to contribute to Arctic governance represent a foreign policy objective in its own right, or if Singapore's Arctic diplomacy is driven primarily by an ambition to exploit an emerging market niche in which it sees itself as a technological and expertise leader.
Stewart Watters is Research Fellow, and Aki Tonami is Researcher, at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Rachael Lorna Johnstone
As Scotland moves increasingly to assert its position on the international stage, this paper asks whether Scotland should develop its own Arctic strategy, comparable to those developed by the eight Arctic states and if so, what the contents of such a strategy might be. This paper will introduce the main reasons why Scotland might pursue an Arctic strategy, taking into account its international audience, its domestic audience and, not of least importance, the audience in Westminster. It will identify Scotland's distinct historical, social, economic and political interests in the Arctic and show how these differ from the United Kingdom. Some potential contents for a Scottish Arctic strategy are outlined, with an emphasis on governance and cooperation, economic development, and environmental and scientific cooperation. The paper concludes that there are both costs and benefits in publishing a formal Arctic strategy, but nevertheless, a coherent, unified and holistic approach to the Arctic is wanting in Scotland and the Scottish government should begin by establishing a dedicated Arctic division within its international department to conduct further research into what Scotland can offer the Arctic and what opportunities the Arctic presents.
Rachael Lorna Johnstone is Associate Professor of Law, University of Akureyri, Iceland.